“I am so happy that my chosen (Democrat or Republican) team sits in the big white house. My team will assemble the education experts to solve our problems and then push their improvement solutions all the way down to the school in my neighborhood. Hallelujah!”
Many folks believe this mantra. Why do so many people put faith and trust in solutions concocted by a committee from the capitol-city? Do we truly believe elected officials and their political appointees are more enlightened than the highly experienced and trained people in the local school houses? Perhaps this delusional belief is just a byproduct of our needing to beg for a few educational resource crumbs returned to the local community.
In any case, we don’t yet have a dictator in the big white house that can make sweeping functional changes all across the kingdom by fiat, thank goodness. Senators and Congressmen, many serving in office for umpteen decades, outlast any chief executive flavor of the month (okay few years). So-called solutions from the capitol-city are never wholly encompassing and arrive enmeshed with complicated compromises, historical entanglements, regulatory confusion, and rule contradictions.
Each year politicians revise and expand the myriad of education regulations that steadily grow more onerous and contradictory. The elected bureaucrats are on the lobbyists’ payrolls, and beholden to oligarchical institutions. Rules and regulations are drafted by industry lawyers and handed to politicians for passage accompanied by hefty campaign contributions. The system works just as our high school civics course taught us, no?
Press conferences are called to announce the centrally-planned improvement solutions with soothing sound bites. The regulatory morass arrives at local institutions in volumes of confusing rules and instructions that read like assembly manuals for a Boeing 757. State and Fed regulatory compliance teams can not keep up with or understand the constant changes.
Enforcement of rules is selective in most cases. School administrators and teachers reel from rule inconsistencies and requisite retooling. They struggle to respond to outrageous mandates that compile year after year. There is barely enough time, energy, and human resource left to serve the students after the bureaucratic documentation is reviewed, systems adjusted, and operations reconfigured.
Mandates come with additional procedures and tasks, but no funding for expanded staff to carry out the composite requirements.
Once a mandate is funded, it is never eliminated. The gravy train of state contract money is never rescinded, only adjusted. The abusive standardized testing is one great example.
This author has not met one person who supports the insipid K-12 testing madness or anyone in the trenches who thinks its effective. The only believers are some damned-fool bureaucrats appointed to committees at the state or federal level, blinded by their own self-importance, and padding their resumes while “serving the public.”
Will the madness of mandatory testing ever be cancelled? No, not likely. There are too many fingers in the revenue stream with lobbyists ensuring the gravy train keeps moving.
The big question each of us need to ponder is why do we continue to believe that solutions for education improvement must arrive from benevolent rulers in the capitol-city? It is blatantly obvious that the cause of the long tailspin of education effectiveness is due to too much fiscal control far from our neighborhoods. Too much power is concentrated in too few hands.
Fiscal and secondary to it regulatory control continues to evaporate from local purview. Central power sucks away from the local communities, and the local education customers, the power of choice. In return we receive the one-size-fits-all mandatory solutions shoved back down the revenue pipeline and the throats of local school teachers, parents, and students.
The failures of the K-12 education system have not and will not be solved by a centralized collection of so-called “experts,” “blue-ribbon” committees, mandatory laws, more regulations, and other solutions from far away places, no matter the team logo (“R” or “D”) adorned by “expert” club members. There is great evidence proving centralized control actually mucks things up.
We continue to plea for help from the fools-on-the-hill, and they are more than happy to oblige with their one-solution-fits-all. We the people continue to suffer from centralized solutions concocted by the dysfunctional capitol-city committees. We expect the broken system to fix itself.
We the people are thus dysfunctional in our continued belief system.
No single model, approach, or solution for enhancing learning exists. There are many creative approaches. Yet we pine for monolithic foolish dogma from the capitol-city. Committee-cloistered, politically-appointed education “experts” have no greater insight into learning success than a seasoned 6th grade teacher, students, parents, and other teaching veterans in the local school.
Take the word “educate,” add an “r” and drop an “e,” and we have “educrat.” An “educrat” is a bureaucrat for learning. Learning is personal, internal, instinctual, and natural. Learning occurs one soul at a time. Learning is often spontaneous, it happens anywhere, any time, and isn’t exclusive to institution or classroom. Learning is surprising, ephemeral, internal (often unseen by human mind and soul), and not completely quantifiable.
Education and learning are analogous to fast-food and eating. Education is the management of financial resources that can facilitate certain forms of learning.
Educrats hold funding hostage until we surrender to their concoctions attached to resource redistribution. Educrats like to standardize learning, like accountants standardize money counting. Educrats make learning factories, and use fancy terminology to explain the most rudimentary practices. Educrats are occasionally helpful, but certainly not creators of learning, and they are anything but entrepreneurial.
Educrats don’t own or control learning, but often delude themselves to believe it.
Give educrats too much power, and they wring the joy from learning. Educrats believe that learning is completely tangible, quantifiable, and manageable. They believe students (the end product) are products like iPhones on a factory assembly line. Educrats engineer education systems that the public often willingly accepts as the next iteration of learning perfection.
Highly processed and manufactured food is often devoid of nutrition. And the same conclusion can be made with over-processed learning labeled “education.”
We all learn to talk before we are “educated.” There are no toddler language institutions dotting the landscape. How is it possible we learn speech without education? We don’t require an education institution to teach us how to transition from crawling, to walking to running. There are no toddler walking schools, so how is it possible we learn such an important skill without standardized curriculum, mandatory testing, and certified experts?
Learning occurs unceasingly; it is a natural and personal human experience. Long before educrats planted their flag in our local schoolyard and claimed the territory in the name of the king, learning thrived just fine. But the educrats invaded and conquered. Now, they rule us with mandates from a distant potentate and court appointed “experts.”
“Learning must be adjusted, improved, standardized, efficient, perfected, and accountable according to the king’s mandates! The state approved experts must educate the masses. It is so decreed from the capitol-city and the king. And if you serfs want your funds returned, you will comply.” So it is ordered.
Educrats continue to deploy Frederick Taylor-like factory assembly line education, with divvied up subjects under academic silos, with standardized lessons, and served in the guise of great efficiency and quantification. Learning morphed into education long ago, following the infestation of educrats and their mandates in the schoolhouse.
And there are boatloads of mandates. We have learned to live with the educratic pollution, kind of like the lead in the drinking water of many communities.
Educratic mandates are often nothing more than ridiculous, ossified practices like the 20th century Carnegie Foundation’s cockamamie Carnegie Unit (originally designed to manage professor retirement pay).
The Carnegie Unit is the most restrictive, totalitarian, and damaging concept to ever infect learning freedom, perhaps only secondary to brain death. It is non-scientific, yet the basis of all educratic measurement. It is the educrats’ yardstick for measuring and quantifying everything in their contrived universe. The Carnegie Unit deserves a swift death sentence by firing squad.
Educrats’ oft regurgitated mantra is “students must be taught how to think.” Here is another example of educratic swill. We are all expected to display gratefulness for educratic guidance on thinking. All the crawling, walking, running, climbing, talking, and imagining is certainly not evidence of thinking, right? So thinking exclusively commences the very first day of attendance at an educratic institution, after the bell rings of course.
The brain does not come with a user’s guide so the educratic system provides us one, god be praised. Long live the queen. Long live the king. Whatever.
Why do we continue to accept the doctrine of perpetual education solutions spewing forth from the capitol-city?
Evidence for this belief system is found in the debates occurring among talking heads on mega-corporate media channels, individual rantings on personal media, political punditry, and dialogue at local school board meetings. The finger of blame and hope always points to D.C, or the state capitol. All problems and solutions flow from the failings or fortitude of the current regime, so go the arguments. We are fools.
We long ago abdicated full local control of our schools by swallowing the siren song of leveraging fiscal efficiencies through state contracts, state bargaining, state textbooks, and federal grants too. As the money slithers up the chain of control, do does local authority and control.
Learning occurs one mind at a time. Each learner comes in many flavors, with different passions, different interests, varied attention spans, language forte, family circumstance, strengths, and weaknesses.
Creating central education models from afar is a vestigial practice from the bowels of the industrial revolution and seeded by Prussian soldier-prepping practices. Educrats appointed to committees in faraway places are no more learned or enlightened than seasoned local professionals. The capitol-city educrats are very often much less experienced teachers, or not even teachers at all. And the capitol-city educrats certainly do not reflect local community culture and values.
Capitol-city committee members are far removed from little Sally Smith and her teacher Juanita Perez. Perez and her support team in the local schoolhouse share years of experience, community ties, even generational relationships with parents and students.
Perez and her teammates have experience, certifications, degrees, and training galore, often way more than necessary (because of educratic mandates). The local team can do just fine coaching, guiding, and motivating little Sally’s learning without capitol-city committee intrusion, thank you very much.
More succinctly, Perez and little Sally thrive when the capitol-city educrats remove their long beaks from the local schoolhouse. Educrats, stay the hell away!
Cancelling capitol-city micro-management frees the marvelous talent in the trenches to devise amazing learning innovations. When creative and entrepreneurial freedom blossoms and thrives, innovation and discovery can bubble away where it should, in the classroom, home, teachers, and students.
The best and brightest approaches, ideas, and practices can arise from the hundreds of thousands of communities and exceptional minds across the country, available for dissemination and adoption.
Every schoolhouse and every classroom is a potential learning innovation incubator, but only if we jettison the one-size-fits-all-top-down educratic micro-management culture. Learning improvement is only possible if we the people change our way of thinking.
We must stop petitioning the centralized rulers for answers and solutions. We must staunchly dis-invite the capitol-city educrats from managing local schoolhouses,. We must send the educrats back into the classrooms, some of them at least. Many of them need to find new professions. We must recapture local fiscal control.
Elected officials and their appointees are the people’s servants, not the reverse.
Is more local control a perfect solution, heck no, there are none, get over it.
But one-size-fits-all creates one-mistake-for-everyone, and it’s sure as hell not working folks. The centralized approach is dysfunctional, and it has long been broken.
It is time to change our thinking, call out the educrats and kick them out of our classrooms. And we must demand our local money back.
“Copyright © 27MAR17 by Steven A. Schwab”